Submit you questions now. To get the ball rolling, we asked Andy five questions of our own. Here are his e-mailed responses:
When people walk into a restaurant with wine list full of unfamiliar wines, it can be overwhelming, even if they know they want a red to go with the steak. What’s the best way to approach an unfamiliar list, other than asking the sommelier?
Ask the assistant sommelier! Look, these days there are more wine-educated servers than ever before. Any restaurant with a significant list spends time training their staff and with organizations like the Court of Master Sommeliers and WSET [Wine and Spirit Education Trust] educating more and more people on the basics of wine knowledge, you’re pretty likely to find someone at most restaurants worth their salt that know a thing or two. You don’t have to ask me, but it never hurts to ask someone.
What, in your opinion, is an over-ordered style of wine, and what do you wish people would order instead of it?
This is a bit touchy, because people like what they like and you should drink what makes you happy. That said, I really don’t get the Malbec fascination. I find them a bit boring. I wish everyone ordered more Grand Cru Burgundy.
If a sommelier suggests a bottle of wine that’s a bit out of your price range, what’s the easiest way for a customer to say “I’m not willing to spend that much” without looking cheap?
Point to a less expensive bottle on the list — specifically point to the price — and ask me what I think of that wine. It’s a subtle way to tell me that price is an issue and, given that your guest usually isn’t looking at the list with us, it allows you to maintain a certain privacy about the exchange. Any sommelier who blows your cover during such an exchange is a jerk; order the cheapest bottle on the list from such people.
I’m going to Grandma’s house for dinner next Thursday. What’s a good, affordable *style* of wine that I can bring and impress the relatives for, say, under $20 a bottle?
I find Spanish Garnacha to be consistently tasty and affordable. Look at regions like La Mancha, Campo de Borja, Yecla and Alicante.
Since you’re a huge music fan, which concert are you most looking forward to attending in what remains of 2011?